The secretary of the Union tribal rights ministry, reversing the stand of his subordinates, and going existing regulations, has said that forestlands can be diverted for mining and other industrial purposes if no claims have so far been lodged for community ownership by tribals and other forest-dwellers under the Forest Rights Act.

The top officials view could lead to large tracts of forestlands, which were till now off limits, be opened for mining and other non-forest activities. A study suggest that more than 98% of the potential community rights area by tribals and other forest-dwellers across the country remained to be settled by mid-2015. Read more